A Fiery Theosophist

He Set the Portland Lodge on Its Feet: L. W. Rogers
(Excerpt from original article)

L.W. Rogers When the judge sentenced him to 3 months in prison for interfering with the U. S. Mail, the future head of the Theosophical Society (TS) in America remained unbowed, even defiant. “We will fight. . .to the finish,” he declared.

His name was L. W. Rogers and his work with the Portland Lodge marked a turning point in the group’s history. According to Portland TS historian George Linton, L. W., as he was called, “probably did more towards building up the Society in Portland than any other one person.” …

Rogers came to Portland for the first time in 1917 and for many other times over the next 30 years. He saved time and money, whenever possible, by sleeping in the Pullman car which had brought him to town. If he had to stay in a hotel, he always picked a low-cost second-class one.

There is a certain irony in recalling L. W. making a hotel room out of his Pullman car, because the minor fame he has achieved in overall American history (recounted in his own Wikipedia entry) came to him not as a theosophist but as a labor organizer and leader of the famous Pullman (car) Strike of 1894.

We can see the seeds of Theosophy in L. W.’s history. He had spent two decades of labor organizing, of producing and editing labor newspapers across the U.S., of bringing the rationality of Free Thought to the public, and of encouraging the Brotherhood of Man along with Eugene Debs and other labor leaders. Then he encountered reincarnation and took a decisive turn, joining the TS in 1903. Not surprisingly, he became an important TS lecturer and quickly rose to the level of TS Vice-President, 1918-1919, and then National President, 1920-1931…

When L. W. felt that the National Society was on an even keel, he stepped down. A few months later, he came to Portland and delivered 9 firebrand lectures, setting the Portland Lodge on its own more even keel. He was 72 years old!